War is about about battles being waged to win or overcome. In the midst of the tensions, friends in company venture moments to alleviate what they know their mates are feeling. The smiles and humour are a gift in order to help. Looking in the same direction, understanding through being there. And the moments of contemplation which have to happen.
Psychology today often suggests activity to alleviate stress. In the precious moments away from daily danger, the limited activities that could be devised were welcome. Swimming, when possible, after enduring the extreme heat of the desert, was relished.
And the occasional donkey race was staged, although the donkeys don’t look too impressed. The dog enjoyed the occasion.
And a game of football, which the dog also enjoyed.
Whatever slight relief from the ever present danger could be grasped momentarily was essential.
Pilots not only had to investigate crashes, but get into their ‘planes and fly the next day and the day afterwards, often in ‘planes that were patched up from parts from wrecks or old ‘planes. And there was the evidence of so many prior crashes to be found, (from both sides of the conflict) and as a pilot, it cannot have been easy to get into the ‘plane day after day after seeing friends, in particular, crashing and have to face the risks with what were barbaric flying conditions compared to today’s aircraft.
During World War I and again during World War II, those serving in countries far removed from home and the life that they had lived found immense comfort in letters, photos and newspapers from home. Censorship was in force but the treasured missives that were possible to send and receive brought some comfort. Along with books to read in the moments when not embroiled in battle.
Before going on dangerous missions, servicemen would write to their loved ones and request that if anything happened to them, their mates would dispatch their letters. The brutal task of advising relatives was never easy.
The human face of ‘war’ with its varying demands.
CONFLICT: Concepts are conceived through the centuries of history. Historically, when those of opposing concept clash or when individuals arise who inflame the differences or attempt to seize unjust power, the conflict escalates and, when not halted or diverted with leadership, grinds on to war. War incorporates resources mobilized to wage it on many fronts. But the greatest of these resources is always manpower.
War has its institutionalized face and its overall directors but it is its human face, as so eloquently described by Mr. Tony Tubbenhauer of his and his companions’ experiences, where the effects of war is seen. That those embroiled in the horrors of war manage to find ways to survive its horrors, moment to moment, whilst dealing with conditions that only those who are at the forefront know, is the testament to courage and endurance.
Not all who find themselves in the midst of warfare survive. Those who do mostly don’t speak to the fullest extent of what they saw. But if they return they proceed in what measure they can to get on with life.
Had it not been for the skill, intuition and what he terms ‘luck’ , neither I nor my sister would have existed. A young man went with many companions who did not all return, to provide the future. But they all battled to ensure it. And during those battles, they spent time together and did their best to see one another through in whatever ways they could find.
April 25, 2015, marks the centenary of Gallipoli in World War I, preceding World War II and from which some lessons were learned. Tony Tubbenhauer’s father was, 100 years ago, landing on those beleagured beaches, with men falling alongside. Those who returned from that battle and those others that have followed continued with the courage and qualities which were essential during the so varied battles of war.
Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/histories/
" Since its inception, the Memorial has sponsored Australia’s official war histories. Australian governments have commissioned four separate series of official war histories over this period, one for each of the major conflicts in which Australia has been involved: the two world wars and the Cold War–conflicts in Korea and south-east Asia. In 2004 the Federal Government authorised the writing of a fifth official history relating to peacekeeping and Post–Cold War operations.
Official histories are ‘official’ in the sense they are commissioned by government as the national record of Australia’s involvement in particular conflicts. The official historians are granted unrestricted access to closed period and security classified government records. The Australian official war histories contain the authors’ own interpretations and judgements and do not follow any official or government line.
The works are the first published official record of Australia’s involvement in war. They are a detailed, chronological record of all services and theatres of conflict. They comprise an invaluable resource for researchers at all levels, from the scholar to the general reader. The official war histories are our enduring national record providing a comprehensive, authoritative, and accessible account of the Australian experience of war."
"The official history of Australia’s involvement in the Second World War represents one of the longest and largest historical endeavours that Australia has ever seen. The enterprise began in January 1943 with the appointment of Gavin Long as General Editor. The 22 volumes, written by 14 authors, were published by the Memorial over a 25-year period between 1952 and 1977."
The Memorial refers to the "enterprise" of chronicling the "experience" of war and after any war the reasons for them and the descriptions of battle continue for many years, with varying opinions, depending on which side of a war the recorders occupy.
In the build up to any war, propaganda is utilized to mobilize the troops needed for combat. With the propaganda comes the emphasis on nationality. Usually some time in the aftermath of war, those countries which were protagonists often move on to develop ties based on the passage of time and other considerations.
In the wake of wars, restoration of the damage done to infrastructure occasioned by battles has to be employed and losses of combatants and civilians gradually accepted over passing years. The forces who were so readily encouraged to battle have to resume or restructure (if possible) their place in ordinary society.
Young men (and women now go to war) are those most desirable to train for battle. They leave one life to be embroiled in another that is vastly different from that they have known. Far too many do not return and families in some cases do not know details of the final days of those who are killed. That the returnees are able to slip back into a society that can have no real concept of what they have endured, they do with the courage they are able to muster. Some cannot escape the memories. For all those memories last lifetimes. Character is formed in many ways. In the midst of war, some succumb to the horrific demands made upon them, others manage to draw upon their reserves and overcome in whatever ways they can.
During the conflagrations to which they are posted, with the risk of incredible danger every day, ways must be found to endure and it is often at the most testing times that the mateship (and occasional diverting humour where possible) which expresses human compassion and caring for one another comes to the fore amongst those companions who are on one side or another.
Young men (and women) go forth, some wisened adults return. And after the extreme testing of situations which most people cannot comprehend but at distance by hearing the retelling and what is circumspectly related, they find the ways to rise above what they must deal with in the individually endured moments of war with its aftermaths. Their initial sense of ‘adventure’ or call to ‘justice’ enables a war to be won or lost not by those whose oversights of command are a necessary logistic directive, but in the moment to moment courage and initiative of those who are posted to the carrying out of the tactics of war.
What we ‘read about’ in retrospect, countless men and women in the combative forces on both sides, (along with the bystanders in both sides of the conflict who survived) lived far more than can be transcribed onto the pages of history.
Sometimes, in a lull, those involved in the battles found time for the greatest of human attributes – the alleviation of stressors for their companions with humour and games, the mateship and comradeship of spirit in cohesion and diversion. And as their thoughts returned to the lives from which they were propelled, contact from home made a very big difference, for their thoughts were on the time in which the daily struggles, the deprivations and constant dire stress, would eventually be over. And when that happens, the survivors need to exhibit more courage still, to get on with life after they are left to do so.
Wars were instigated far more readily than perhaps they are as we move on with the wisdom of hindsight. May we seek the answers to other than this combativeness which involves so many. The cost of any war is exorbitant, more so in terms of human life. Wars draw too extensively on the courage of those who must fight it with all that they have within themselves in the worst of times. The one thing that arises from the ashes is the glimpse of the human spirit which, when so tested, finds the moments to express the opposites.
As part of this human condition, we have spasmodically waged battle against those who are seen as opposing forces, changing the course of lives in the eventual resolutions. Perhaps we gradually become wiser. The bullies of the world have to be reined in. So many have fought the battles occasioned by the few and in the process, no-one really wins – life proceeds onward past each confrontation with adjustment for some, so many affected in differing ways. We battle for ‘peace’ across the centuries, enlisting those who know its importance. How much better to find the ways that do not involve their sacrifices. The greatest values are often glimpsed in the disasters and emergencies – but may we remember them and their importance as we forge our way forward.
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